MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec and Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly each took part in their respective morning skates Saturday, but only one of them has a chance of playing in the fourth installment of the Northeast Division rivalry this season.
Plekanec missed a 4-1 win Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets with a groin injury, but he was back in his usual spot at Canadiens practice between Michael Ryder and Brian Gionta. Coach Michel Therrien said a final decision on Plekanec will be taken following the warm-up.
“One thing is certain,” Therrien said, “if he plays tonight, it’s because he’s able to play.”
Kelly, out since March 11 with a fractured tibia, practiced with his teammates Friday and took part in an optional morning skate Saturday. Defenseman Andrew Ference was the only healthy Bruins player who decided to take the option not to skate.
Bruins coach Claude Julien did not sound like a man who was ready to throw Kelly into the fire Saturday night.
“We’re going to put it day-to-day for now,” he said. “If it changes over the course of the day, then we’ll see tonight.”
Tuukka Rask, coming off a 40-save shutout Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, was first off the ice Saturday morning and is likely to get the start. He has faced the Canadiens in each of their three matchups this season, posting a 1-1-1 record with a 3.26 goals-against average and .867 save percentage.
He will need some help from a Bruins team that has allowed 87 shots on goal over its past two games.
“It has to do with our back pressure, guys backchecking and putting pressure on the puck-carrier,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “It’s a combination of everything. We need to play a tighter game as a five-man unit.”
The Canadiens will turn to Carey Price in goal; he has struggled against Boston with an 0-1-0 record, 3.63 goals-against average and .878 save percentage. He was pulled while down 4-2 after two periods of the prior meeting in Boston, and Peter Budaj stopped 14 of 15 shots in the third period and overtime to backstop Montreal’s come-from-behind 6-5 shootout win.
Here are the projected lineups for the Bruins and Canadiens, taking for granted that Plekanec will play and Kelly won’t.
Francis Bouillon – David Drewiske